Do you remember back in history class when we learned that on July 4th, 1776, King George III wrote in his diary “Nothing of importance happened on this day?” Whether that’s true or just a legend, that’s my reaction to seeing Green Jelly.
Let me make a quick aside. The first act up was a band called Necrosis. They’re a bunch of local boys who have been trying to scratch their way up as a band, and honestly, they’re not bad. The vocals are fairly standard grind/hardcore stuff, but the players are pretty talented, the riffing and arrangements are well thought out, and the songs don’t all sound the same. I’ll also give them some credit for doing something I hadn’t seen recently, which is getting off stage and playing in the middle of the mosh pit. Well done, gentlemen. There’s room for improvement, but the basics are all there. If Necrosis can focus in and become more efficient musically, they might have something on their hands.
Anyway, in a word, the Green Jelly show was ‘regrettable.’ For whatever reason, I had a foreboding feeling about this show the entire day leading up to it. There are a lot of concerts I go to that I encourage my friends to attend. Even if they haven’t heard of the band, I figure it’s a good enough show that they should see it. This was not one of those shows.
I was then greeted by the second band of the evening, the Radioactive Chicken Heads. There’s not a single redeemable thing I can say about that. Let me give you the basics: a handful of guys come out with ridiculous chicken masks, with the exception of the singer, who is naturally a talking carrot. Hey jackass, free advice: when you try to sing from the inside of a large paper mache tube, it doesn’t sound right. I commented to a friend of mine that the vocals sounded like Jello Biafra if Jello were singing through a tube sock. Luckily, this set was mercifully short.
Then my friend and I started to put puzzle pieces together. None of the equipment had been taken off stage; nothing had been added with two bands to go. The Chicken Heads singer had proclaimed that Green Jell-o was in the building. Who still calls them Green Jell-o? The band’s set was remarkably brief. In the midst of this, we took a count. Not including the people out having a cigarette, there were a total of fifty-four people in attendance. This was not going to go well.
Just as we came to a conclusion, out came Rosemary’s Billy Goat. They picked up the same exact equipment and confirmed my haunting suspicion. Green Jelly was opening for themselves. Twice.
After that second round of nonsense (note that none of the details are worth mentioning,) out came Green Jelly. Immediately, they called forth a number of puppet-headed individuals, and began jumping around the stage while the band played. It is at this precise moment that I considered leaving the show before it was over. If I could have frozen time for just a moment, and stepped outside my body, I would have reevaluated. Once engaged in the out of body experience, I would have stepped back from myself about twenty feet, taken in the scene, and yelled at myself: “Drew, you’re standing here amidst nobody watching grown men jump around in poorly constructed paper mache heads. Does this seem like a good use of your time?” In retrospect, I’m not totally sure why I didn’t make Green Jelly only the fourth show I’ve ever left before its conclusion (Frog Brigade, WASP, Black Label Society.) It may have had something to do with there being so few people there; the band would have noticed if I had walked away. Even so, I experienced several “what am I still doing here moments?”
The tiresome, stale antics continued for quite a while. That, in the end, is my primary grievance against this concert. The whole thing seemed amateur. I understand and accept that Green Jelly is a self-professed “stupid” band. And I understand and accept that there are a number of stupid/ludicrous/absurd bands that I am a fan of (GWAR, SoD, Primus.) However, the admission of this fact does not absolve them from putting on a poor show. As I said, it felt juvenile, like a series of sophomoric inside jokes, and without the music to back it up. The band members not immediately involved in the puppet show seemed to be mailing it in.
Two notes: 1) during Necrosis’ set, I’m not sure what was funnier: watching one guy make short forays into the mosh pit and then emerge seeking his girlfriend’s approval of his effort, or the guy in the pit who lost a shoe without being touched.
2) This might be the telling part of the show. There came a point where the venue employees were clearly trying to clean up and send a subtle hint to Green Jelly to stop playing. That hint went unheeded, but still.